Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Sometimes-I-just-don’t-get-it edition

October 19, 2012

This one! Really? Ban free education!?!

RIP: J D Salinger

January 29, 2010

From Paper Cuts I learnt the news:

There will no doubt be a lot of tributes and appreciations to Salinger in the coming days — a notion that would surely have driven Salinger himself crazy. Here’s Holden, cranky as ever:

Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.

But I’d rather remember Salinger (and Holden Caulfield) with the last words to “Catcher in the Rye,” words that signaled Salinger’s future seclusion even as they allowed for the joy and the pain of human connection:

It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

We’ve missed J. D. Salinger for a long time, but now we can bid him farewell and wish him peace.

Updation and revision of obituaries

March 21, 2008

I noticed a curious note at the end of the Arthur C Clarke’s obituary by Anthony Tucker published in the Hindu today:

(This obituary has been revised since Anthony Tucker’s death in 1998.)

Since the original piece was published in Guardian, when I Googled, I found that this is not the first revised/updated obituary by Tucker that has been published in the Guardian: see, for example, the obituaries of Victor Weisskopf, E S Anderson, Hermann Bondi, and Thomas Gold.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a wiki page for Tucker; in the absence of any information online, I can only surmise that Tucker was the obituarist for Guardian, whose files/notes/write-ups are still being used.

Who shot Saint-Exupery?

March 16, 2008

Here is one report:

“I didn’t target a man who I knew. I shot at an enemy plane that went down. That’s all”, he told the authors.

Mr Rippert said he spotted the author’s twin-tailed Lightning P38 while flying a Messerschmitt Me-109 over the Mediterranean near Toulon, and was amazed it was flying alone.

“He was below me. I saw his markings and manoeuvred myself behind him and shot him down”, said Mr Rippert, who brought down 28 planes during the war, and became a radio sports journalist afterwards.

Here is another:

“You can stop searching – I was the one who shot down Saint-Exupéry,” Mr Rippert told Mr von Gartzen when he telephoned.

Mr Rippert, whose story is told in the book Saint-Exupéry, L’Ultime Secret, described how he was patrolling in his Me109 and found the lone Lightning heading along the coast from German-occupied Toulon to Marseilles. The pilot was flying carelessly, as if enjoying himself, at a vulnerable 6,000ft, he said.

“If you were used to hard-combat flying, that was not normal . . . He was looking around,” Mr Rippert said. “He wasn’t bothered about my presence. I said to myself, ‘Ok old chap, if you don’t clear out, I’m going to pot you’. I dived towards him and fired at the wings. I hit him. The kite ditched, hit the water, smashed up. No one baled out. It would have been impossible to know that it was Exupéry. I hoped and still hope that it was not him,” Mr Rippert continued.

“In our youth, at school, we all read him and adored his books. He knew admirably how to describe the sky, the thoughts and feelings of pilots. His work drew many of us to the profession. They told me later it must have been Saint-Exupéry. What a disaster. What have you done, I said to myself.”

The book’s authors, Mr Vanrell and Jacques Pradel, a leading French broadcaster, said that the German pilots appeared to have agreed a pact of silence when they learned from American radio traffic that the search was on for Saint-Exupéry.

Mr Rippert told the authors that he had been temporarily taken off flying duties because he was Jewish. He said he had later been decorated for his victories over Allied aircraft by Hermann Goering, the Luftwaffe commander.

While Mr Rippert’s story appeared to fill in the blanks in the mystery, it has been greeted with some scepticism, given that it has taken so long years to emerge. French historians are expected to seek corroboration of his account.

Both the links via Literary Saloon.

Transforming the way people think about blogging!

January 21, 2008

Apparently, that is the aim of wordpress; and, I understand that towards that end the free space that comes with the wordpress account has been increased sixty fold! Here is Matt Mullenweg on the developments:

Today, one of those developments comes to fruition — everyone’s free upload space has been increased 60x from 50mb to 3,000mb. To get the same amount of space at our nearest competitor, Typepad, you’d pay at least $300 a year. Blogger only gives you 1GB. We’re doing the same thing for free.

Our hope is that much in the same way Gmail transformed the way people think about email, we’ll give people the freedom to blog rich media without having to worry about how many kilobytes are left in their upload space.

How are we able to do this? Over the past year we’ve developed our file infrastructure, replication, backup, caching, and S3-backed storage to the point where we don’t feel like we need to artificially limit what you folks are able to upload just to keep up with growth. We’re ready for you. )

This certainly transforms my way of thinking about blogging: may be I should try and increase my blogging frequency, if not sixty fold, at least by a factor of two or three!

Lakota sovereignty

December 21, 2007

Kerim quotes from the official web page of the sovereign nation of Lakota:

.. The Lakota reservations are among the most impoverished areas in North America, a shameful legacy of broken treaties and apartheid policies. Lakota has the highest death rate in the United States and Lakota men have the lowest life expectancy of any nation on earth, excluding AIDS, at approximately 44 years. Lakota infant mortality rate is five times the United States average and teen suicide rates 150% more than national average . 97% of Lakota people live below the poverty line and unemployment hovers near 85%.

All this sounds very similar to the descriptions of Ram Guha, in his India after Gandhi, of the difficulties faced by tribal people in getting integrated into the Indian nation, and their struggles for a separate state (and, in some parts, their continuing struggle for not just a separate state but nationhood). However, this is the first time I am hearing of similar complaints in the US. Take a look!

The Nobel Peace Prize 2007

October 12, 2007

Has been awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr,

for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

Update: Chad at uncertain principles goes the Onion way with the Al Gore news!

“The President feels that at this time, it’s too early to say for sure whether Al Gore has won the Peace prize,” said White House spokesman Scott Stencil. “The science is just not conclusive yet. The President feels that more study is needed before we agree that this honor has been conferred to the former Vice President.”

When reporters pointed out that the announcement had been posted on the official Nobel Prize web site, Stencil raised the possibility of malicious computer hackers. “We have solid intelligence that indicates that pedophile computer hackers affiliated with Al Qaeda were planning to attack the Nobel Prize site. We think this ‘announcement’ might be the work of Islamofascist tree-huggers, and encourage all American citizens to run back to bed and cower under the covers until we determine the truth.” Stencil refused to identify the source of this intelligence, citing national security concerns.

The White House plans to call an international summit in early 2008, involving representatives of major oil-producing countries, to determine the real winner of the Nobel Prize. “We should be able to establish a clear consensus on the true winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize by no later than October of 2015,” Stencil said. “We ask that people be patient.”

The announcement was the latest in a series of decisions that critics say indicate that the President is becoming increasingly disconnected from reality. These include his refusal to acknowledge the retirement of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an insistence that Will and Rebecca are still contestants on ‘Beauty and the Geek,’ and pretty much the entire Iraq war.

Nobel prize in literature 2007

October 11, 2007

Goes to Doris Lessing, who is,

that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny.

NPR has a nice piece on Lessing, where it calls the decision stunning:

The Swedish academy’s announcement was stunning even by the standards of Nobel judges, who have been known for such surprises as Austria’s Elfriede Jelinek and Italy’s Dario Fo.

Maud Newton links to a recent interview with her in Boston Globe, where the interviewer does mention Nobel prize:

For her devoted fan base, Lessing is unquestionably the greatest living writer never to win a Nobel Prize.

Tune in for update on the reactions!

Update 1: Reactions of Ms. Lessing:

Ms. Lessing learned the news from a group of reporters camped on her doorstep as she returned home from visiting her son in the hospital. She declared herself totally surprised.

“I had forgotten about it, actually,” she said. “My name has been on the short list for such a long time.”

On second thought, she said, perhaps she was not entirely surprised, because “this has been going on for something like 40 years,” a reference to the many years when she had been named as a potential honoree. “You can’t go on getting excited every year about this,” she said. “There are limits to getting excited finally.”

Short, stout and a bit hard of hearing, Ms. Lessing was sharp and straightforward in her comments. After a few moments, she excused herself and went inside.

“Now, I’m going to go in to answer my telephone,” she said. “I swear I’m going upstairs to find some suitable sentences which I will be using from now on.”

Update 2: Ms. Lessing did find some suitable sentences:

Her quote today, in the Guardian, was priceless: “I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one. I’m delighted to win them all, the whole lot. It’s a royal flush.”

Update 3: Complete Review is doing a wonderful job of collecting the Nobel prize related stories (so, I don’t have to keep updating this post any more); via Laila Lalami.

Giant magnetoresistance wins physics Nobel 2007

October 9, 2007

Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg are awarded the Physics Nobel 2007

for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance.

The wiki page has a nice write-up on giant magnetoresistance.

Update: Doug at Nanoscale views has a short write-up on GMR.

Few links!

October 8, 2007

[1] Vaughan at Mind Hacks links to a podcast that discusses mind-body problem (and, himself, gives a nice introduction of the problem too).

[2] Nobel prize in physiology and medicine for the year 2007 goes to Mario R Cappechi, Sir Martin J Evans and Oliver Smithies,

for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells.

[3]  Jonah Lehrer at the Frontal Cortex refers to an article by Jerome Groopman on neural activity in comatose patients.